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The Practical Ed Tech Handbook

Richard Byrne -

1. Communication with students and parents.
Text/ SMS/ push notification tools.
Email management tips.
Blogging tools.
2. Web search strategies.
Getting beyond the first pages of results.
3. Digital citizenship.
4. Video creation.
Video projects and tools for creating them.
Tools for building & distributing flipped lessons.
5. Audio recording and publishing.
Web-based & mobile recording tools.
6. Backchannels & informal assessment.
7. Digital portfolios.

My view on using technology in the classroom is that it should in some way help teachers create
memorable learning experiences for their students. That help can come in the form of
streamlining a workflow so that I have more time to focus on the fun aspects of teaching,
working with kids. That help can also come in the form of technology that enables students to do
things that generations before them could not have done, like producing a video that is seen by
thousands of people around the world.
This guide is designed to provide you with an overview of a selection of free web tools,
websites, and mobile apps that have utility in nearly every K-12 classroom. In each section you
will find more than one tool that can be used to reach the same ends. I like to present more than
one option in each category because we all have different levels of access to computers and
tablets, different school web filtering policies, and different needs for our students.

Why didnt you include X? I think you should include X? The danger of putting together a guide
like this is that for every three tools I include there are probably three or ten others that are like
it. The tools that I have included in this guide are ones that I have personally used with students
and or in the many professional development workshops that I facilitate every year. I tend to
gravitate to the tools that have the simplest user interfaces and those that I think a teacher can
feel comfortable using with his or her students in a relatively short amount of time. To that end,
throughout this guide you will find links to video tutorials on many of the tools that Ive chosen to
Wheres all the Google Apps stuff? I have published guides about Google Drive, Maps, Earth,
Sites, and Blogger in the past. Those guides alone total more than 200 pages. You can find
those guides on under the heading of Google Tutorials. I also have a
YouTube channel in which Ive published more sixty Google Apps tutorials. You can see that
playlist at

Reusing this guide:

You are welcome to download and print this guide to distribute in your school building. You may
not upload it to your own website/blog or embed it in your own website/blog without permission.
If you would like to use this guide as the basis for a professional development workshop within
your school without printing it, please direct people to h
I offer in-person and virtual professional development workshops. If you would like to have me
come to your school or host virtual trainings, please send me an email at

About the author:

Richard Byrne best known for developing the award-winning blog F
ree Technology for
Teachers. He has been invited to speak at events all over North America, Europe, Australia,
Southeast Asia, and the Middle East. Richards work is focused on sharing free resources that
educators can use to enhance their students learning experiences. Richard has taught high
school social studies and language arts, worked with preservice teachers, and teaches
continuing education courses for the Midwest Teachers Institute.
Richard is a five time winner of the Edublogs Award for Best Resource Sharing Blog. Richard
became a Google Certified Teacher in 2009. 2012 saw Richard receive a Merlot Classics award
from chancellors office of California State University. In 2010 he was a finalist for ACTEMs
(Association of Computer Teachers and Educators in Maine) educator of the year award. Tech
& Learning Magazine named Richard one of their people to watch in their 30th Anniversary
celebration (
On a daily basis Richards blog F
ree Technology for Teachers reaches more than 100,000
educators. In addition to writing Free Technology for Teachers, Richard also maintains and Richards print work includes a monthly
column for School Library Journal, contributing author to W
hat School Leaders Need to Know
About Digital Technologies and Social Media, and contributions to T
eacher Librarian. Richard
lives in Woodstock, Maine with his loyal dogs Max and Mason.
Get in touch with Richard:
Email - r
Twitter - @
Facebook - F
Instagram - I

Communicating with students and parents.

When it comes to communicating with parents nothing can replace a good face-to-face meeting.
Face-to-face meetings are not easy to schedule. Not every communication requires the intimacy
of a face-to-face meeting. A phone call, a text message, an email, a blog post, or a social media
post might be all that you need in order to convey your message. In this section well take a look
at the best tools for digitally communicating with parents and students. As you read through this
section bear in mind that using a combination of the following tools and strategies is going
provide you with the best opportunity to reach all of your students and their parents.
Text Messaging/ SMS/ Push notifications:
People have a difficult time ignoring text messages and other push notifications that pop-up on
their mobile phones. For that reason services that allow you to distribute messages in that
manner are great for urgent news and reminders. It is also worth remembering that there are
more homes with mobile phone subscriptions than homes with broadband subscriptions in the
United States. 1 Therefore, youre statistically more likely to have a parent receive your text
message than you are to have them receive an email.
Remind (, formerly known as Remind 101, is a great tool for sending
important reminders to students and their parents. Through Remind students and their parents
can sign-up to receive text messages on their mobile devices. You send the messages from
your computer or mobile device without students or parents seeing your personal cell phone
number. Like regular text messages that you might send to friends, you can attach files to
messages that you send through Remind. Messages can be sent to individuals or to groups that
you create in your Remind account.
In addition to text messages Remind offers the option to send audio messages up to fifteen
seconds in length. Just like text messages, voice messages can be sent to individuals or to
Stamps is one of the two options that Remind offers for students and parents to use to interact
with the messages that you send to them. Students and parents can reply to your Remind
messages by selecting one of four stamps to indicate that they have received your message
and indicate if they need further clarification about your message.
Chat is the other option that Remind offers to students and parents to communicate with you.
Remind Chat allows students and parents to reply with text to a teacher's messages. When I
first heard about Remind Chat I was leery of it because I was concerned that students and
parents would be messaging teachers at all hours of the day and expecting rapid responses.
Remind alleviated that concern when I saw the "office hours" setting in the Remind chat service.

"Office hours" allows teachers to specify when they will allow chat messages to be sent and
received. Teachers can also pause or stop chat exchanges at any time.
For the 2016-17 school year Remind introduced an option for schools to collect payments from
parents via text messaging. Remind calls this function activities. Activities created in Remind
can be free events or events that require a payment such as for a field trip. If you choose to
create an activity that requires a payment, parents can pay through the Remind app. Remind
charges a transaction fee for events that require a payment. The transaction fee is paid by the
parent in a manner that is similar to buying tickets to a sporting event and having a
"convenience fee" tacked on to the purchase.

ClassDojo Messenger
ClassDojo ( is a popular tool for creating records of students' behaviors like
staying on task, being prepared for class, and general attendance in class. You can also add
custom behavior categories to track in your ClassDojo account. Students can sign into their own
accounts to see the points they have earned in class. Parents can sign into ClassDojo to see
how their children are doing.
ClassDojo also provides a free messenger service ( .
ClassDojo Messenger can be used to send messages to parents on an individual basis and on
a whole group basis. ClassDojo uses the term "Direct Messaging" to refer to sending messages
to individuals and the term "Broadcast Messaging" to refer to sending messages to all parents in
a group. ClassDojo Messenger hides the personal contact information of the teacher and the of
the parents. Parents have to opt-in to receive messages from the teacher.

Class Messenger
Class Messenger ( is a service that offers free iPhone
and Android apps that teachers can use to send messages to parents and students on a group
or individual basis. Class Messenger allows you to send text and picture messages. Students
and their parents can reply to your messages without seeing your personal phone number.
Likewise, you don't see personal phone numbers of your students.
Class Messenger categorizes messages within the app. There are categories for homework
assignments, general reminders, surveys, and volunteer requests.
One of the aspects of Class Messenger that I appreciate is that when you register for an
account on Class Messenger there are demo classes already made for you to use to explore
the app. The demo classes eliminate the worry of accidentally sending messages before you
completely understand how the app works.

Class Messenger doesn't have to be used on an iOS or Android device. It is possible to use the
service through the Class Messenger website.

Celly ( is a free service that enables you to create and manage contact groups for
text messaging. Celly calls these groups "cells" and you can create as many as you need. You
can manage these groups from your phone (Android or iOS) or from your laptop. Likewise, you
can send messages from your phone or from your laptop. Like regular text messages you can
attach files to your messages. People can join your C
elly group by sending a text to the join
code assigned to your group. People can also join via the web by going to the unique URL
assigned to your group.
From the perspective of a teacher or administrator C
elly's big appeal is the option to archive all
conversations that occur within a Celly group. You can set permissions in Celly groups to allow
replies to messages that you send out. Or if you don't want to receive replies you can set
permissions to not allow replies. For students and parents who don't want to receive text
messages, there is an option for them to receive email alerts instead.
Celly wasn't quite as intuitive to set-up as some similar services that I've used. I recommend
watching the Celly intro videos to get started. Those videos can be found at

Pros & Cons of Using Text Messages to Communicate With Students & Parents
Pros of using text messages for announcements:
1. Immediate broadcast of messages to large groups of students and parents. Some of
these services will let to schedule broadcasting of messages too.
2. People have a very hard time resisting opening text messages immediately whereas
email is easy to ignore for hours or days. Don't believe me, the next time you receive a
text message try to ignore it for one hour.
3. Even households that don't have laptops, desktops, or home wireless are likely to at
least one person that has a mobile phone to receive text message alerts. The Cellular
Telephone Industries Association claims wireless penetration in the U.S. is 104%
4. You can attach files to your messages to enhance and or explain the larger context of
your message.
Cons of using text messages for announcements:

1. You have to get parents and students to opt-in to receive messages.

2. While great for short announcements like, "school is cancelled due to snow" or
"remember your field trip permission slip" text messages are not great for
announcements that require explanations.
3. Depending upon the service you choose, you may find yourself receiving a lot of replies
that should be handled by phone call or in-person conversation.
4. Despite the CTIA statistic above, some students and parents won't have reliable access
to a mobile device that receives text messages. This is particularly true in communities in
which pay-as-you go mobile plans are prevalent.

Email Management Tips

Like most people, I have a love-hate relationship with my email inbox. As soon as it gets close
to empty, it fills up again. I'm sure you can relate.
While I'm still not the best at handling my email efficiently, I do have a couple of tools that have
helped me become a little more efficient in handling of email.
Auto Text Expander for Google Chrome ( is a convenient Chrome
extension that I've recently started using. The extension enables me to create keyboard
shortcuts for words and phrases that I frequently use in emails. The video available here
( provides a demonstration of how to use this handy extension.
Add Reminders is a Google Sheets add-on that enables you to send emails from a spreadsheet.
The add-on will format your spreadsheet so that you simply enter reminder messages and email
addresses then specify a date on which you want your reminders sent. The Add Reminders
Add-on allows you to send the same reminder to everyone in your email list or you can send
individualized reminders to everyone in your email list. Watch this video
( to learn how this helpful tool functions.

Creating classroom blogs.

A classroom blog can serve as the online hub for all information about your classroom. You can
use a blog to publish updates about your class, to distribute assignments, to post handouts, and
share study guides and other reference materials. Of course, a blog is the ideal place to have
students write reflections on things theyve learned and for you to do the same. More than forty
examples of classroom blogs can be found at h
Blogger is my preferred platform for building classroom blogs. Its free to use all of its features, it
integrates into Google Apps for Education accounts, and it takes less than five minutes to create
a blog through Blogger. A 90 page guide to using Blogger in school can be downloaded at Within that guide you will find a glossary of blogging terminology,
step-by-step directions for creating a blog, directions on adding third party content to your blog,
and directions for using Bloggers mobile apps.
Edublogs ( and KidBlog ( are popular alternatives to
Blogger. Both of those services require that you purchase a subscription in order to do things
like include videos and manage students accounts. A chart comparing educational blogging
services can be found at

Pros & Cons of Using Blogs for Classroom/ School Announcements

Pros of using blog posts as school announcements:
1. It is easy to have multiple people maintain the blog. The burden of keeping parents
informed about school news doesn't rest with just one person.
2. An archive of announcements is automatically created and easy to find.
3. You can include as much media as you like (or your hosting allows) in a blog post. It is
easy to include video of a great school event. Or include an audio announcement that is
accessible to struggling readers.
4. You can write announcements in advance and schedule them for distribution at later
5. You can easily call attention to and direct people to previous announcement and or to
reference pages containing things like school calendars and handouts.
Cons of using blog posts as school announcements:
1. Parents must remember to check your blog or you convince them to subscribe to it.
2. If you have commenting enabled you will need to must moderate comments.
3. If you don't have comments enabled parents will have to open a separate email client or
call to ask questions about information in the blog post.
4. If your blog's URL is complicated, people will have a hard time remembering it correctly.
For example, parents in my district often complained about remembering the structure of when looking for some of my colleague's blogs. My blog was simply (I spent $10 per year for hosting that domain through Blogger and
wrote off the cost on my taxes).
5. If you choose to self-host your blog you will have to spend time maintaining the back-end
for software updates and security.
A couple of considerations that are neither pros nor cons.
1. Blog posts can easily be converted into and sent as email messages through services
like FeedBlitz, FeedBurner, and Aweber to name a few. Parents who prefer email can
receive the posts through those services. Parents who prefer to subscribe to a blog via
RSS can use services like Feedly and Flipboard to follow the blog.
2. Nearly every blogging platform will let you create static pages for content like calendars,
policies, and handouts.

Google Search Strategies

I'm often asked for recommendations on how to help students use Google more effectively in
their research efforts. Whether you teach elementary school, middle school, high school, or
college students these tips can be used by your students.
1. Not every question needs to be Googled.
One of the bad habits that I see many students fall into when it comes to research is
simply entering into Google the first thing that comes to mind. While this strategy can
work, it often leads to a lot of time wasted on searches for information that students
already have. Before embarking on a research project ask students to make a list of the
things they already know about the topic they plan to research. Have them look in their
notes to see if they already have information on the topic.
2. Search within a search result.
One of the worst offenses students commit while conducting web searches is only
glancing at the webpages they open from the search results page. Or worse yet, only
reading the brief snippet that appears below the links in a search results page. The
reason for this behavior that students often give is it takes too long to read the whole
page. To remedy this teach your students to use Control F (Windows) or Command
F (Mac) when they open a webpage from the search results page. Control F or
Command F allows you to search within any webpage for any letter, word, or phrase.
This also works for searching within PDFs and other documents that students may
download during a web search.
3. Think like someone else.
When formulating search phrases it can be helpful to think about the words that
someone else might use to describe your topic, question, or problem. Try using those
terms instead of your own. Learn more about this strategy in the short video available
4. Open the advanced search menu.
The advanced search menu is often overlooked by students. It is found by opening the
gear/ sprocket icon that appears in the upper, right corner of the search results page. In
that menu you will find tools for refining search results by file type, domain, language,
and more.
5. Search by domain.
Limit search results to specific top-level domain or to a specific website. For example, if I
wanted my search results to be limited to links from .edu sites, I would enter .edu in the
domain limitation box.

6. Search by file type.

Search by file type allows you to find results according to file format. Combine searching
by file type .ppt or .pdf with searching by domain . edu or to find
PowerPoints or PDFs produced by students and teachers. (replace the .me in with your states two letter abbreviation to find slides and PDFs produced in
your state).
7. Try Google Scholar.
Google Scholar to find academic, peer-reviewed articles on your topic. Often these are
articles that you would not find in typical Google search. Google Scholar is also useful
for finding court rulings and patent filings.
8. Set Google alerts and Google Scholar alerts.
Go to to create alerts for specific search terms. When
new information related to your topic is available, it will be emailed to you. Google
Scholar also has an alerts function.
9. Search Google Books & Newspapers
Google Books ( indexes millions of books and periodicals that
you can search within. Many books and periodicals are available to read online for free.
The Google News Newspaper Archive ( has
digitized hundreds of old newspapers that you can search through.
10. Remember that Google isnt the only search engine.
Most schools and local libraries has access to databases that are not indexed by Google
and or are not accessible without the subscription fee that your school or library pays.
Ask the librarian for assistance in accessing those databases.

Digital Citizenship
Whether our students are in Kindergarten or high school before we send them out on the web
we should be teaching them digital citizenship.
Elementary School Resources
PBS Kids offers the Webonauts Academy ( in which elementary
school students can learn about safe online behaviors. When students have completed all of the
Webonauts missions they will graduate from the Webonauts Academy. The educators tips page
offers some practical suggestions for using Webonauts in the classroom or in a school library.
In an effort to teach children about potential dangers online and how to avoid them, the Council
of Europe has offers a game called Through the Wild Web Woods
( Through the Wild Web Woods is designed for students ages
seven through ten to learn how to spot danger on the Internet and what to do when they do spot
danger on the Internet. The game is available in twenty-four languages.
Professor Garfield is a free resource developed in part by the Virginia Department of Education.
Professor Garfield teaches students how to be safe online, how to recognize and respond to
cyberbullying, and how to decide if something is a fact or an opinion. These educational
activities can be found in the free Professor Garfield apps; Online Safety (,
Fact or Opinion (, Cyberbullying ( All of the free
Professor Garfield iPad apps use the same format. The format is a set of comic strips that
students read to learn about the issues the app is focused on. At the end of the comic strips
students play some simple games to practice recognizing good online behaviors.
AT&T's Safety Land ( is a nice game through which kids learn and practice
recognizing danger on the Internet. The game is set in the city of "Safety Land." As students
navigate from building to building in Safety Land they are confronted with a series of scenarios
and questions to respond to. If they respond correctly to each scenario they will capture the
cyber criminal and send him to the Safety Land jail. Students who send the cyber criminal to
Safety Land jail receive a certificate that they can print out.
Digital Passport ( is an online program from Common Sense Media. The
purpose of the Digital Passport program is to provide students in grades three through five with
lessons and games for learning responsible digital behavior. Digital Passport uses videos and
games to teach students about cyberbullying, privacy, safety and security, responsible cell
phone use, and copyright. Students earn badges for successfully completing each phase of the
Digital Passport program.

Middle School / High School Resources

A Thin Line ( is a digital safety education resource produced by MTV in
collaboration with other media partners. The purpose of the site is to educate teenagers and
young adults about the possible repercussions of their digital activities. A Thin Line offers a
series of fact sheets about topics like sexting, digital spying, and excessive text messaging and
instant messaging. A Thin Line gives students advice on how to recognize those behaviors, the
dangers of those behaviors, and how to protect your digital identity. Students can also take a
short quiz to practice identifying risky digital behaviors.
Own Your Space ( is a free ebook designed to educate tweens and teens
about protecting themselves and their stuff online. This ebook isn't a fluffy, general overview
book. Each chapter goes into great detail explaining the technical threats that students'
computers face online as well as the personal threats to data that students can face online. For
example, in the first chapter students learn about different types of malware and the importance
of installing security patches to prevent malware infections. The fourteenth chapter explains the
differences between secured and unsecured wireless networks, the potential dangers of an
unsecured network, and how to lock-down a network.
ThinkB4U ( is a series of web safety videos and tutorials from Google
and its partners. Using the "choose your own adventure" aspect of YouTube video editing,
ThinkB4U offers interactive videos to educate viewers about things like protecting online
reputations, avoiding scams, research and critical thinking, and responsible text messaging.
ThinkB4U is divided into three basic sections; students, parents, and educators. Each section
addresses nine different topics related to safe and responsible use of the Internet and cell
phones. The sections include short videos about the topics, a short written lesson, and some
interactive games on the topics of responsible use of the Internet and of cell phones. The
Educators' section of ThinkB4U offers lesson plans from Common Sense Media and the
National Consumer League. There are lesson plans designed for elementary school, middle
school, and high school use.
Seven Digital Deadly Sins ( is an interactive story produced by the
National Film Board of Canada. The story contains seven chapters each containing short
videos, essays, and polls. The videos and essays tell the stories of people suffering from digital
sins like greed (illegally downloading media) and wrath (cyberbullying). After reading or
watching the stories viewers can vote on questions about what they would do in similar
situations. Seven Digital Deadly Sins does deal with some content, mostly in the section on lust,
that you will want to screen before deciding if it is appropriate for the students in your

Creating and Protecting Strong Passwords

One of the best ways to protect your online identity is to create strong passwords containing
unique characters. Sometimes it's difficult to think of new strong passwords. When you're having
a mental block thinking up a new password try PassCreator (
PassCreator is a free service that helps you create a strong password. To use PassCreator just
select the attributes you want your password to have (number of characters, character type,
etc.) then press "create." If you don't like the password created for you, just press "create" again
to generate another password.
Whenever it is offered as an option, it is a good idea to use two-step or two-factor authentication
on the online services you use. Google, Dropbox, Box, and many other cloud services offer this
option. Two-step authentication means that just entering one password isnt enough to log into a
service. Learn about Googles two-step authentication in this video and read about it in detail at h

Six styles of classroom video projects

The process of creating and publishing videos can be a great way to get students excited about
researching, storytelling, and sharing their work with an audience. For teachers who have never
facilitated video creation projects in their classrooms, choosing the right style of video and the
right tools can be a bit confusing at first. To help bring clarity to the styles and tools, I have a
rather simple outline that I use in my video creation workshops (
Project style #1 - One-take videos:
These are videos that are shot using the camera built into a mobile phone or tablet. You might
also use the camera in a laptop for these types of videos. The purpose of a one-take video is to
quickly record a short observation, to record a short message, or to capture an important
moment like students making observations during a science lab. Generally, these videos should
be less than sixty seconds.
One-take videos can be uploaded just as they are to YouTube, Vimeo, Instagram (depending on
the length of the video), your classroom blog, Google Drive, Dropbox, or any number of online
hosting services. If you use the YouTube or Instagram mobile app (available for Android and
iOS) you might trim the beginning or end of the video to remove dead space in it or apply a color
filter to it, but that will be the extent of the editing that is done before the video is shared.
Project Style #2 - Audio slideshows
These are videos that are built upon a series of still images combined with a soundtrack of
either music or spoken words. Summarizing the highlights of an event, summarizing the key
points in a story, and summarizing the results of research project are all common purposes for
creating audio slideshows. You will also find this style of video used to give step-by-step
directions for a process. This style of video is typically less than three minutes long.
Animoto ( was the first tool to popularize creating this style of video. Animoto
can be used in a web browser on your laptop or Chromebook. Android and iOS apps are also
available from Animoto. To create an audio slideshow through Animoto you simply need to
upload ten to fifteen pictures then choose the soundtrack that you want to hear as the images
are displayed. Within Animoto there is an extensive gallery of free music that you can use if you
dont have music of your own to upload. Animoto does allow you to add some limited text to
your slideshow video. A variety of frame and transition themes are offered by Animoto. Some of
those themes are free and others are only available to subscribers to Animotos premium

YouTube offers an audio slideshow creation tool. The process of creating a video with
YouTubes audio slideshow creation tool is very similar to the process of using Animoto to make
a video. You supply the images and YouTube supplies the audio track. You can pick from
thousands of audio tracks to match to your slides. After adding your slides and selecting an
audio track you can add speech bubbles to your images by using YouTubes annotations tools.
A video demonstration of the process of using YouTubes audio slideshow tool can be found
The shortcoming of both Animoto and YouTubes audio slideshow creator is that you have very
limited control over the timing of transitions in your video. So if you want to narrate the
slideshow rather than just play music you will have to try another tool. On an iPad Shadow
Puppet Edu and 30 Hands are good apps to use to create audio slideshows. WeVideo is a good
browser-based as well as Android option. (Explain Everything is also a good Android and iPad
option, but it is not free). For desktop creation of audio slideshows iMovie and Windows Movie
Maker good choices.
Shadow Puppet Edu ( is a free iPad app that you can use to create audio
slideshow videos. The app offers an integrated search tool for finding pictures from the Library
of Congress, to search for images from NASA, and to find Creative Commons licensed images
from Flickr. You can also import pictures and videos from the camera roll on your iPad. After
selecting a set of images students you can arrange them into any sequence by simply dragging
and dropping them into order. Then to create a story press the record button and talk while
flipping through your images.
30hands ( is a free iPad app that makes it very easy to create a narrated
slideshow and or whiteboard video. To create a basic narrated slideshow on 30hands all you
need to do is import images from your iPads camera roll then press the record button below
each image to record your narration. If you dont have any pictures on your iPad you can take
pictures using the 30hands app. 30hands also allows you to draw images instead of importing
pictures. You can combine imported pictures with drawn images in your presentations. And you
can draw on top of imported images. When your project is complete you can save it on your
iPad or share it with the 30hands community.
Stupeflix ( allows you to create audio slideshow videos up to twenty minutes
in length. You do not need to register in order to create a video on Stupeflix. You can and
should register if you want to be able to go back and edit your video after it has been published.
To create a video on Stupeflix start by choosing a theme for your video then uploading pictures
from your computer. If you don't have any pictures on your computer you can importing some
from your Flickr, Facebook, or Instagram account. Once your pictures are uploaded or imported
you can drag and drop them into the sequence in which you want them to appear. You can layer
text on each image. To add sound to your video you can select a soundtrack for the entire video
or layer sound on each image individually. Stupeflix provides a nice gallery of free soundtracks
that you can use or you can import your own audio tracks. When you're ready to see your

finished product, click the preview button before publishing your video. A video tutorial on
Stupeflix can be seen at

Project Style #3 - Whiteboard/ Screencast Instructional Video

This style of video is what you will find on places like Khan Academy. This style is used for
explaining and demonstrating how to solve problems, how to use a piece of software, providing
a walk-through of a timeline or flowchart, or to simply narrate a set of slides. This style of video
is often made by teachers for the purpose of instruction to students. There is value in flipping
that model to have students create instructional videos through which they model their
knowledge of a process or topic.
Clarisketch ( is a free Android app that has great potential for classroom
use. The app allows you to take a picture or pull one from your devices camera roll and then
add your voice to it. While you are talking about your picture you can draw on it to highlight
sections of it. Completed projects are shared as links to the video file hosted on Clarisketch.
You can share the link to your Clarisketch video and have it play on nearly any device that has a
web browser. Clarisketch is also available as Chrome app (
PixiClip ( is a good option for creating simple instructional videos in your
computer's web browser. PixiClip provides a whiteboard space on which you can draw, upload
images to mark-up, and type. While adding elements to your PixiClip whiteboard you can talk
and or record a video of yourself talking. In fact, you can't use the whiteboard without at least
recording your voice at the same time. Recordings can be shared via social media, embedded
into blog posts, or you could grab the link and include it on webpage.
To record your screen on a MacBook you can simply open QuickTime Player then choose New
Screen Recording from the File drop-down menu.
There are lots of tools for creating screencast videos on a Windows computer.
Screencast-O-Matic ( is the tool that I use on a regular basis for
creating screencasts on both my Windows 7 laptop and on my MacBook. You can launch it from
your web browser and use it for free. Screencast-O-Matic also offers a desktop installation
option for $15/year. Jing ( from TechSmith is another
screencasting tool that Ive used on both Windows and Mac over the years. The drawback to
Jing is that the video saves as a .swf file which isnt terribly easy to use in other services or
upload to YouTube. You can learn more about SWF files on the TechSmith website

Project Style #4 - Animated Videos

Creating animated videos is a great way for students to bring a story to life. They can create
animations for stories theyve created or for stories theyve read.
Tellagami ( is an app for iPad that is a lot of fun to use to create narrated
animations. Tellagami allows you to create customized animated scenes in a matter of minutes.
To create a narrated, animated scene simply open Tellagami and tap create. After opening the
create menu you will see a default character and background scene. The characters can be
altered by selecting from a big menu of customization options. The background scenes can be
changed by selecting from a menu or by inserting a picture from your iPads camera roll. To add
your voice to your animations simply tap record and start talking. Completed animations are
stored on the camera roll of your iPad or tablet. Tellagami does not require students to create
accounts or have an email address.
Wideo ( is a neat video creation service that allows anyone to create animated
videos and Common Craft-style videos ( online through a simple
drag-and-drop process. Wideo templates provide a basic framework for a video's theme. A
couple of the templates that might be of interest to teachers are the slideshow template and the
curriculum template.
Scratch ( allows students to program animations, games, and videos
through a visual interface. Students create their programs by dragging together blocks that
represent movements and functions on their screens. The blocks snap together to help students
see how the "if, then" logic of programming works.
Project Style #5 - Stopmotion & Timelapse Videos
Creating stopmotion videos is a good way for students to see how a story develops
frame-by-frame. Think about the process of making a claymation film. That process requires
students to plan each part of a story by positioning the clay figures for each scene. I have had
students use this process with paper cutouts instead of clay. The videos on C
provided my inspiration for having students create stopmotion videos featuring paper cutouts in
place of clay.
Timelapse videos offer a fantastic way for students to record and then see how a lengthy
process occurs. Capturing the process of osmosis provides a good opportunity to use timelapse
videography. Take that standard osmosis demonstration of placing a raisin in a beaker of water
and capture it with a timelapse video tool. When youre finished capturing the process you will
have a short video that will show students the stages of the raisin swelling.
JellyCam ( is a free program for creating stopmotion movies. Using
JellyCam you can create stop motion movies using images from your computer or images that
you capture via your webcam. Once you've selected images you can quickly arrange them into
a sequence. After the sequence is set you can specify how many images you want per frame. A

soundtrack can be uploaded to your video. JellyCam uses the Adobe Air platform. If you don't
have Adobe Air it takes just a couple of minutes to install it.
OSnap ( is an iPad app (available in a free version and in a paid version) that
you can use to create stop motion and time lapse videos. The app is quite easy to use. To
create a video with the OSnap app you simply need to start a project and take a series of still
pictures using your iPads camera. Then adjust the number of frame per second to edit your
video. If you want to, you can add a soundtrack to your video by selecting audio files that are
stored on your iPad. You can go back and edit your videos by removing images and from the
project at any time. Completed projects can be stored on your iPad, uploaded to YouTube, or
shared via email.

Project Style #6 - The Documentary/ Feature Film

These are the longest video projects in a classroom. Students will create videos of five minutes
or more to tell a fiction or nonfiction story. While any of the previously mentioned project styles
could be stretched to five minutes, generally theyre better kept to shorter lengths. The typical
project over five minutes is going to be a documentary style, news report, or telling of a long
fiction story with live action. For Mac users, iMovie is the go-to tool for these projects. Windows
users will lean toward Windows Movie Maker. On a Chromebook, WeVideo is your best option
for editing documentary/ feature film projects.
Adobe Spark ( offers a great option for creating a video that falls
somewhere between the categories of audio slideshow and feature film. Adobe Spark lets
students create video based on images that they upload or select from its integrated search
option. Students can also draw and type on slides in Adobe Spark. The best part of Adobe
Spark is that students can record their own narration directly over each frame of their videos. To
record narration students simply hold down the microphone icon in the editor and start talking.
The video available at provides an in-depth overview of how to
use Adobe Spark.

Creating & Distributing Flipped Video Lessons

VideoNotes ( is a neat tool for taking notes while watching videos. VideoNotes
allows you to load any YouTube video on the left side of your screen and on the right side of the
screen VideoNotes gives you a notepad to type on. VideoNotes integrates with your Google
Drive account. By integrating with Google Drive VideoNotes allows you to share your notes and
collaborate on your notes just as you can do with a Google Document. You can use VideoNotes
to have students submit questions to you and each other while watching videos. Of course, you
can insert questions into the conversation for your students to answer too. The video available
at will show you VideoNotes in action.
Vialogues ( is a free service that allows you to build online discussions
around videos hosted online and videos that you have saved on your computer. Registered
users can upload videos to Vialogues or use YouTube videos as the centerpieces of their
conversations. After you have selected a video from YouTube or uploaded a video of your own,
you can post poll questions and add comments that are tied to points in the video. Your
Vialogue can be made public or private. Public Vialogues can be embedded into your blog or
website. Learn how to use Vialogues in the video available at h
TurboNote ( is a great Chrome extension that enables you to take notes
while watching a video in the same web browser window. Unlike some similar extensions,
TurboNote isn't limited to working with YouTube videos. TurboNote can be used on Vimeo,
Netflix, and Facebook videos. With the TurboNote extension installed you can take notes while
watching any video. To take notes just tap the TurboNote extension icon in your browser and a
menu for taking notes appears. Any notes that you type are automatically time-stamped. You
can go back and edit your notes at any time by opening the TurboNote sticky notes option as
seen in the video below. All notes can be shared via social media and email.
EDpuzzle ( is a neat tool that allows you to add your voice and text
questions to educational videos. On EDpuzzle you can search for educational videos and or
upload your own videos to use as the basis of your lesson. In your EDpuzzle lessons you can
make it a requirement for students to answer a question before moving forward in the video.
EDpuzzle has an online classroom component that you can use to assign videos to students
and track their progress through your video lessons. EDpuzzle's Chrome extension

( enables you to save YouTube videos directly to your EDpuzzle

account. This means that instead of having to search within EDpuzzle for videos you can simply
browse YouTube like you normally do then just click the EDpuzzle extension to save the video.
Once a video is saved you build your questions around it. Learn how to use EDpuzzle by
watching the video at
PlayPosit ( is a good service for creating, assigning, and tracking
your students' progress on flipped lessons. PlayPosit allows teachers to build flipped lessons
using YouTube and Vimeo videos, create questions about the videos, then assign lessons to
their students. Teachers can track the progress of their students within PlayPosit. To create
lessons start by identifying a topic and objective then searching YouTube and Vimeo from within
the PlayPosit site. Once you've found a suitable video you can build multiple choice questions
throughout the timeline of your chosen video. You can create as many lessons as you like and
assign them to your students at any time.
Teachem ( is a service that uses the TED Ed model of creating lessons
based on video. On Teachem teachers can build courses that are composed of a series of
videos hosted on YouTube. Teachers can write questions and comments in "flashcards" that are
tied to specific parts of each video and display next to each video. Students can take notes
while watching the videos using the Teachem SmartNote system. Creating a Teachem course a
straight-forward process of choosing a video URL then writing corresponding questions. When
you create a Teachem course you can make it public or private. Public courses can be
accessed by anyone that has address for your course. Teachem contains an option to
collaborate with colleagues on the creation of courses. A series of Teachem tutorial videos can
be found at
TES Teach, formerly known as Blendspace, ( makes it easy for
teachers to organize and share educational materials in a visually pleasing format. On TES
Teach you arrange videos, links, images, and files around any topic of your choosing. TES
Teach has built-in search tools so that you do not have to leave your TES Teach account in
order to locate resources. When you share a set of TES Teach materials with your students they
can give you feedback to show that they understand the materials or they can ask questions
about the materials. You can also see if your students actually looked at all of the materials that
you have shared with them. Using TES Teach can be a good way to create and deliver flipped

Audio Recording & Publishing

TwistedWave ( is an audio recording tool through which you can
create and edit spoken audio recordings from scratch. Your completed tracks can be exported
to Google Drive and SoundCloud. If you have existing audio tracks in your SoundCloud or
Google Drive account you can also import it into TwistedWave to edit those audio tracks.
TwistedWave's audio editing tools include options for fade-in, fade-out, looping, sound
normalization, and pitch adjustments. The editor also includes the typical track clipping tools
that you would expect to see in an audio editing tool. Watch a demonstration of TwistedWave at
StoryCorps has a free app called ( that is available for
iPhone (it will also work on iPads, it's just a little grainy looking) and Android devices. will try to force you to create a StoryCorps account, but you can use it without
creating an account. Creating an account will allow you to publish your recordings on the
StoryCorps website. is designed to help people conduct and record great
interviews. The app includes a set of questions that you can use in your interview. The question
sets are varied depending upon the relationship that you do or don't have with your interviewee.
While recording your interview you can swipe through the questions to help you keep the
interview on track. Completed recordings can saved on your device and or shared with the
StoryCorps community. ( is an easy-to-use audio recording tool available to use in your web browser.
To record on you simply go to the website and click the big record button (you may have
to allow pop-ups in your browser in order for to access your microphone). When you're
done recording click the share button and you'll be taken to a page on which you can download
your recording or grab an embed code to post the recording on a blog. In the video embedded
below I provide a demonstration of how to use in your web browser. is also
available to use as a free iOS app ( or as a f ree Android app
( A video demonstration of is available at

Vocaroo ( is a free service that you can use to create short audio recordings.
Creating a recording on Vocaroo is a simple process that does not require you to create an
account or have any special browser plugins. Just go to the site and click record to get started.
Watch the video at to see how easy it is to use Vocaroo.
SoundCloud's ( Android and iOS apps no longer have the recording
features that they used to have, but the browser based version still offers a good recording tool.
After recording in your SoundCloud account you can grab the embed code for any of your
recordings. Learn how to use SoundCloud in the video available at h
AudioPal ( is a free service that anyone can use to create short audio
messages to embed into blog posts. AudioPal offers three way to create messages. You can
record using the microphone connected to your computer. You can record by calling AudioPal's
phone system. Or you can create a message by using AudioPal's text-to-speech function. See
AudioPal in action at
If you want to create a podcast that is published to global audience then publishing your podcast
through iTunes will probably give it the best opportunity to reach a large audience. Most people
are familiar with the process of subscribing to podcasts through iTunes. The drawback to using
iTunes to publish your podcast is that the set-up process ( is confusing
the first time you do it. But if you're only publishing occasionally or only looking to share your
audio recordings with a specific audience (let's say students, their parents, and perhaps another
classroom or two) then you might be better served by using one of the tools featured above as a
simpler method of publishing your audio recordings.

Backchannels & Informal Assessment

Backchannels, polling services, and quiz tools provide good ways to hear from all of the
students in a classroom. These kind of tools allow shy students to ask questions and share
comments. For your more outspoken students who want to comment on everything, a feedback
mechanism provides a good outlet for them too. Ive hosted a number of webinars about
backchannels and informal assessment tools. The recording of the most recent of those
webinars is available at
TodaysMeet ( is a long-time favorite tool of mine for backchanneling in
the classroom. Over the years TodaysMeet has evolved from a very basic chatroom tool to one
that I can reliably use in classrooms. TodaysMeet allows you to quickly create a chatroom
without registering on the site. However, if you choose to register you can take advantage of
some excellent additional features including moderating comments, closing rooms early,
keeping an archive of chatrooms, and requiring sign-in in order to participate in the chat.
TodaysMeet also now allows you to embed your chatrooms into a blog post. Ive used
TodaysMeet rooms as a place where my students can ask questions and reply to each others
questions during a classroom activity. See the features of TodaysMeet displayed in the videos
available here
81 Dash ( is a nice backchannel platform developed with the help of
teachers. 81 Dash provides a place for teachers to create chat rooms to use with students to
host conversations and share files. Once you are registered you can begin creating rooms. In
your chat room you can exchange messages and files. As the owner of a room you can delete
messages written by your students. Students join your 81 Dash room by going to the URL that
is assigned to your room. When they arrive at your room for the first time they will be asked to
register. There are two registration options. Registering as a "guest user" does not require
students to enter email addresses. See 81 Dash in action in this video

Formative ( provides you with a place to create online classrooms. Your
students join your classroom by entering the assigned class code after registering on the
Formative website. Once your classroom is established you can begin distributing assignments
to students. Assignments can be as simple as one question exit tickets like "what did you learn
today?" to complex quizzes that use a combination of multiple choice, short answer, and
true/false questions. You can assign point values to questions or leave them as ungraded
questions. You can also enable or disable instant feedback for students. When you give an
assignment to students through Formative you can watch their responses in realtime. The best
feature of Formative is the option to create "show your work" questions. "Show your work"
questions enables students to draw responses and or upload pictures as responses to your
questions. When you use this question type students will see a blank canvas directly below the
question. On that canvas they can draw and or type responses.

Tozzl ( allows you to quickly create private, password-protected message

boards as well as public boards. To get started visit Tozzl and select "create a new Tozzl." Then
you can name your message board and set a privacy password (optional). Tozzl assigns a new,
unique URL to each message board. On your message board you can add sections for chat, file
sharing, to-do lists, and YouTube videos. You can also import the feed of a Twitter hashtag. The
many facets of Tozzl open it up to a bunch of possible classroom uses. You could use it simply
as a backchannel tool in which students ask questions through the course of a lesson. You
could have students use it as a project management tool when they're working in groups. Tozzl
message boards also have the potential to be used for simply distributing digital handouts and
videos to your students. A video about Tozzl can be seen at h
On Dotstorming ( is a neat tool on which you can create a space for
people to post digital sticky notes. Those notes can contain text and or images. That part of
Dotstorming is just like Padlet. What makes Dotstorming different is that once the notes are
posted, you can have people vote for their favorite notes. As the creator of a Dotstorming space
you can restrict the number of votes that each person can cast. For example, you could say that
each person gets two votes and once those votes are cast they're prevented from casting any
more votes. After the voting is completed, you can sort the notes according to the number of
votes they received. See Dotstorming in action at h
Kahoot ( is a service for delivering online quizzes and surveys to your
students. The premise of Kahoot is similar to that of Socrative and Infuse Learning. On Kahoot
you create a quiz or survey that your students respond to through any device that has a web
browser. Your Kahoot questions can include pictures and videos. As the teacher you can control
the pace of the Kahoot quiz or survey by imposing a time limit for each question. As students
answer questions they are awarded points for correct answers and the timeliness of their
answers. A scoreboard is displayed on the teacher's screen. Students do not need to have a
Kahoot account in order to participate in your activities. To participate they simply have to visit then enter the PIN code that you give to them to join the activity.

Socrative ( is the standard to which I compare all new student response
systems. Socrative uses cell phones and or laptops (user's choice) for gathering feedback from
students. You can post as many questions as you like in a variety of formats. One of the more
fun question formats is the "space race" format in which students can work individually or in
teams to answer questions as quickly as possible.
Triventy ( is a free online quiz game platform that is similar in concept to
platforms like Kahoot and Socrative. Triventy differentiates itself from the crowd by allowing you
to accept question suggestions from students. Teachers can invite students to add questions to
their games. Typically, this is done as a homework assignment before running the game in
class. This creates a comprehensive learning experience in which students are both players
and tutors who share their knowledge with you and their classmates. One of the neat features
of Triventy for students is that they can ask for a hint or to have an answer choice eliminated.
Students can also see an explanation of the answer to each question. Learn more about
Triventy in the video available at h

Padlet ( is a great tool that I frequently use in my workshops for the purposes
of gathering feedback from attendees and having attendees share digital creations they made
during a workshop. One of the reasons that I like it so much is that it is easy to use. I also like it
because it can be used for a bunch of purposes. A playlist of Padlet tutorials can be found at
Padlet as a simple blogging platform:
Padlet walls can be arranged in free-form, grid, or stream layouts. Creating a Padlet page in the
stream format could be a good way to create a simple, collaborative blog for students. You
could create the page, select "stream" format, and make the page accessible for students to
write short posts on. Their posts could include images and videos. If you want to, you can
password protect your Padlet pages and moderate messages before they appear on your
Padlet page.
Padlet for group research and discussion:
A few years ago I showed my special education students a short (18 minutes) video about
cultural changes that took place in the US during the 1920's. After the video we discussed what
they saw. Then I had students search online for other examples of cultural change in the 1920's.
When they found examples they put them onto a Wallwisher wall that I projected onto a wall in
my classroom. The wall started with just text being added to the wall and quickly progressed to
YouTube videos being added to the wall. Once every student had added a video to the wall we
stopped, watched the videos, and discussed them.

Padlet as a showcase of your students work:

If your students are creating digital portfolios, creating slideshows, or producing videos you
could use Padlet to display all of your students best work on one page. Create the wall, call it
something like my best work this year, and have your students post links to their works.

Plickers ( is the ideal polling/ informal assessment tool for classrooms in
which not every student has a computer or tablet to use. Plickers uses your iPad or Android
tablet in conjunction with a series of QR codes to create a student response system. Students
are given a set of QR codes on large index cards. The codes are assigned to students. Each
code card can be turned in four orientations. Each orientation provides a different answer. You
can ask questions verbally or project them on a screen for students to see. When you're ready
to collect data, use the Plickers mobile app to scan the cards held up by your students. Plickers
will show you a bar graph of responses. Responses can also be saved in your online Plickers
Three ideas for using Plickers in your classroom:
1. Quickly taking the pulse of the class. Ask your students, "do you get this?" (or a similar
question) and have them hold up their cards to indicate yes or no. You can do this with a saved
class or a demo class in the app.
2. Hosting a review game. Create a series of questions in your saved Plickers classroom. To
conduct the review have students hold up their cards to respond to each question. Every
student gets to respond at the same time and you get to see how each student responded. This
is an advantage over many review games in which only the first student to respond has his or
her voice heard.
3. Take attendance. In a saved Plickers class each student has a card assigned to him or her.
At the start of class just have them hold up their cards to check-in.

Creating Digital Portfolios

Over the course of the school year our students create some fantastic digital products. Building
a digital portfolio is a great way for students to look back at everything they've done and
organize their works into a cohesive package. The following seven tools are good services for
creating digital portfolios.
Google Sites ( is a good platform on which students and teachers that
have Google Apps for Education accounts can build digital portfolios. Page-level permissions in
Google Sites allows the creator of a site to share and give editing access to specific pages
within a site rather than giving access to edit the entire site. To use page-level permissions open
your Google Site editor then click "enable page-level permissions." With page-level permissions
activated you can share and allow editing for each page individually. A video tutorial on using
page-level permissions can be found at A 47 page guide to Google
Sites can be seen here
Weebly ( can be a great digital portfolio platform for your students. Weebly
makes it easy to create websites that look great and are easy to navigate. Weebly users can
select from a superb collection of site templates and themes. The Weebly mobile apps allow
users to edit and add content on the go. Weebly for Education (
includes all of the intuitive website-building and blogging tools found on Weebly plus features
built specifically for education. Weebly for Education offers bulk creation of student accounts
which teachers can manage and moderate. Students can create their own websites and blogs
using the accounts that you create for them.
Seesaw ( is a free service designed for creating digital portfolios on
iPads, Android tablets, and Chromebooks. Students can add artifacts to their portfolios by taking

pictures of their work (in the case of a worksheet or other physical item), by writing about what
they've learned, or by shooting a short video to record something they have learned. Students
can add voice comments to their pictures to clarify what their pictures document. To get started
with Seesaw create a free classroom account. Students join the classroom by scanning a QR
code (you will have to print it or project it) that grants them access to your Seesaw classroom.
As the teacher you can see and sort all of your students' Seesaw submissions. Seesaw allows
parents to create accounts through which they can see the work of their children. As a teacher
you can send notifications to parents when their children make a new Seesaw submission. Visit to watch a series of tutorials about Seesaw.

Dropr ( is a free service for creating portfolios of your images, videos, and audio
files. Within your Dropr account you can have multiple portfolio pages. If you wanted to have a
page for images that you took in the fall and a page for images that you took in the spring, you
can do that in Dropr. To create a Dropr portfolio start by signing up with a social media profile or
with your email address. Then start your first project by uploading a cover image. Once you
have started a project you can drag and drop media from your desktop to the Dropr website.
Each project can include text in addition to the media that you upload to it. Each of your projects
will have a different URL. You can work on your projects in private until you are ready to share
them with the world. Your Dropr projects can be embedded into a blog as a slideshow.
Clipix ( will initially remind you of Pinterest in that you can "clip" images, videos,
and links to save on digital clipboards. Clipix also supports uploading files from your computer to
your Clipix clipboards. Each of the clipboards that you create in your Clipix account can be kept
private or made public. There is also a privately shared option that can be used for collaborating
on clipboard creation. Clipix's basic functions are very similar to other services in the same
market. The user interface on Clipix feels less cluttered to me than that of some of its
competitors. The option to customize your clipboard background is a nice touch too. Clipix offers
Android and iOS apps that will synchronize with your online Clipix account.
Tackk ( is a free service that was originally designed for creating
simple webpages, but has morphed into a good tool creating digital portfolios and assignment
portfolios. To create a Tackk page you do not need to register for an account, but unregistered
Tackk pages expire after seven days. If you register for the service your Tackk pages stay up
indefinitely. I recommend registering for a free Tackk account before creating your first page.
Creating a Tackk page is a simple matter of uploading an image then adding text in the
customizable fields above and below your images. Tackk pages can also accommodate videos,
audio files, and maps. You can find a video tutorial about Tackk at h
Disclosures: Seesaw has advertised on

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